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Linking packaging to marketing: how packaging is influencing the marketing strategy
Bo Rundh
Department of Business Administration, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
Purpose – The purpose with this paper is to investigate the relationship between packaging and the influence it has on marketing from a management point of view. Design/methodology/approach – Based on case studies different packaging solutions are discussed in relation to requirements by customers in the supply chain. Data for the cases were collected by different means including narratives and personal interviews. Findings – New packaging solutions offer the prospect of improved functions in the supply chain, delivering protection and preservation before reaching the ultimate customer. It also offers improved opportunities for better information and communication with the customer. However, the possibilities for innovative packaging solutions must be analyzed in relation to increased costs for packaging and the influence they can have on the environment. Research limitations/implications – This study extends previous research by linking packaging to the marketing strategy. Even though it is based on four case studies it combines different data sources including both qualitative and quantitative data. Originality/value – This paper evaluates the implementation of new packaging solutions in the supply chain from a managerial point of view, discussing benefits against challenges. This paper therefore fulfils an identified need for recognising the importance of packaging in relation to the marketing strategy. Keywords Marketing strategy, Supply chain, Packaging Paper type Case study

Linking packaging to marketing 1547
Received 13 December 2011 Revised 4 April 2012 Accepted 16 April 2012

Introduction Intensive competition requires firms to develop innovative solutions in order to remain competitive and survive in the long term. Entrepreneurial activities and creative marketing contribute to such initiatives. Packaging and packaging design have therefore come increasingly to be seen by firms as an effective way of differentiating product offerings from those of competitors (Rettie and Brewer, 2000). Well-designed packages can in addition build brand and drive sales. Major retail chains devote considerable resources to packaging, in-store promotion and visual issues to remain competitive and packaging has developed from a silent salesperson to a brand builder (Clement, 2007). New packaging solutions have also contributed to more efficient distribution systems in several packaging industries and to customer convenience in others (Packaging Federation, 2008). Packaging innovation has also contributed to a revolution in distribution within the food sector (e g TetraPak), as well as the development of packages for meeting new customer demands (take-away food). Further, new packaging design has helped to provide better opportunities for customer information and marketing communication at the store level (Underwood and Klein,

British Food Journal Vol. 115 No. 11, 2013 pp. 1547-1563 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0007-070X DOI 10.1108/BFJ-12-2011-0297

packaging is also an important aspect of trade in industrialized countries and is becoming more significant for logistic purposes in developing countries (World Packaging Organisation.. competition and legislative requirements (see Figure 1). Basic textbooks in marketing include packaging as an important variable for the decisions of marketing managers.BFJ 115. Among the factors leading to competitive advantage are better user convenience. 2004). Kotler and Keller. The packaging industry accounted for a turnover of $485 billion including machinery sales in 2004 and the turnover was estimated to reach $564 billion in 2009 (World Packaging Organisation. Packaging contributes to business success Numerous factors have made packaging an important marketing tool. Packaging . the necessary information to the consumer (e g about the content. better in-use characteristics and superior design. Packaging innovation has even played an important role in achieving better logistic solutions such as conforming packaging size to pallet sizes. First. The rest of the paper is organised and structured as follows. Studies in the US market show that many new packaging solutions reach the market annually. The logistic function includes the way a product travels from a producer to the consumer and the physical requirements that packaging must fulfil within the actual supply chain. Despite the importance of the subject area product marketing. The basis of competitive advantage entails meeting customer’s needs in a way that is superior to that of competitors (Day. knowledge of customer demand and its potential impact on the purchase-decision process..11 1548 2002. The commercial function concerns the different requirements for marketing communication. However. This paper reviews packaging research and relates it to marketing theory. recycling and reduction of packaging materials as well as general ecological awareness. Large quantities of food are now wasted due to poor logistics and packaging processes. 2008). Young. Then. This development is especially important for the distribution and protection of food products in emerging market areas. but treat it in a general way and ignore the importance of the possibilities that packaging can offer for marketing purposes (De Pelsmacker et al. 2009). However. The function also includes the market environment with consumer. West et al. The environmental function relates to the re-utilisation. The main aim of the paper is therefore to highlight the importance of packaging within the marketing concept and link packaging to marketing strategy. commercial and environmental functions of packaging. In the final section the conclusions and implications for managers are drawn. new customer needs have led to a consideration of new requirements for the design of a package and a development process involving the logistic. the research method used in the study is presented. Two subsequent sections discuss the research findings in four case studies together with other research material. 2010). 1994. Competitive advantage may result from a reinterpretation of product functions or an emphasis on one of the functions. there is a discussion of the contribution of packaging to business success. packaging has generated little research interest among scholars from a management point-of-view (Rundh. The empirical section consists of four case studies. 2011. 2007. how to use the product). 2009). 2005). The main function that companies have traditionally assigned to packaging has been related to the protection of products during distribution from a producer to an end consumer. followed by a review of the literature in the packaging area.

shape. A conceptual model of the packaging chain can therefore be an important source for creating competitive advantage in a company’s offering. or do for the particular product. Every day. “the packaging material costs for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) can be as much as 20 per cent of the sales price. 1998. According to the Swedish research organisation Innventia (2011). some of them several times”. text and brand mark. we would not be able to export or supply food products over long distances. Developing an integrated marketing strategy including packaging as a marketing tool requires several important decisions about the packaging and its relation to other marketing tools. Schwartz. One issue is to establish a packaging concept defining what the package should be.. The research question in this study can therefore be formulated as follows: how can packaging contribute to fulfilling competitive advantage in relation to the marketing strategy? To answer this research question a qualitative study has been carried out based on different product cases within the packaging industry. 1950. 1971). relatively few studies have been devoted towards the theoretical work in marketing literature. 2009). However. material. resulting in damage during logistics and storage. Some of the early research was done in the area of general characteristics and the role of packaging design as a variable influencing product evaluation (Banks. However. even if there are arguments for using less packaging. as well as the lack of cold chain facilities. Even if packaging has become a recognised marketing tool.Linking packaging to marketing 1549 Figure 1. large quantities of food are now wasted in developing countries. Up to 10 per cent of all fruit and vegetables at an estimated value of 10 billion Euros are also destroyed during transport within the European Union (World Packaging Organisation. Without packaging. Decisions must also be made on additional factors such as size. colour. Theoretical context The distribution of products and commodities has become an even more important function in our society today. This is especially important for the international market depending on whether the company is working with a standardised or adaptive marketing. . Packaging related research has also included studies of its communicative role (Nancarrow et al. all decisions depend on where the activities take place in a supply chain. a consumer faces – and handles – 20-30 packages. This is often due to poor packaging and packaging processes.

The multi-function of packaging has been investigated by Prendergast and Pitt (1996) and Rundh (2005). 2005) and packaging size and shape (Wansink. the primary package for a product. A new packaging design can also revitalize the sales of a brand such as Heinz’s unique colourful and upside-down bottle for ketchup. The intention with this study is to contribute to this area. The package can be the first contact a presumptive buyer has with a product in a store or at a supermarket and a well-designed package can function as the silent sales representative. 2002. Raghubir and Greenleaf. which all require new packaging solutions even if the contents are just line extensions. 2009). 2001) and ethical packaging matters (Bone and Corey. Several factors have contributed to a growing interest in and use of packaging for differentiation and the possibility of achieving competitive advantage. Despite these works. Young. where an effective package needs to perform many of the sales tasks such as attracting attention. Underwood. For this. Innovative packaging can obviously produce large benefits for the consumer and profits to producers. Underwood et al. 2006). Since 50 to 70 per cent of all purchase decisions are made in a store. Among those factors is the increased importance of self-service. Packaging and the packaging process consist of all the activities that different actors perform to add value in a supply chain from the design of a package. the packaging concept must even create consumer confidence and provide a positive overall impression of the content in the package (Rettie and Brewer. 2000). 1996. it is necessary to analyse and develop packaging as a creative marketing tool and not only as an element in the product strategy. Another research area has discussed packaging design with respect to the use of material (Lee and Lye. 2007). or the product’s features. Another important .000 new food products are introduced annually in the US market. 2003).. packaging has become a tool for fulfilling several other marketing purposes. This can include. 2000. little is known about packaging and its relation to marketing strategy. to its re-cycling by the end-consumer. advertisement and package coordination (Garreston and Burton. Previous research also stresses the importance of the communicative aspects and brand-building functions of the package (Rettie and Brewer.11 1550 Underwood and Ozanne. Packaging innovation Previous studies show that more than 15. describing the contents of the box. Various factors can obviously contribute to an increasing use of packaging for marketing purposes.BFJ 115. for example. 2003). 2000). Packaging can also contribute to influencing the consumers’ later experiences of a product through their use of the package for other purposes. Innovative solutions can be achieved by incorporating new materials and unique features such as resealable materials and new ways of opening a package (Selame and Koukos. 1998. Packaging as a marketing tool Apart from the functions of protection and facilitating distribution. leading to the sale of the product. 2004). Packaging design and its contribution to creating competitive advantage has been studied by others (Rundh. the secondary package and the transport or shipping package. Competitive advantage through packaging Competitive advantage can be achieved in any function of a firm’s activities (Aaker and McLoughlin.

g. p. as previously suggested by Bloch (1995). The shape of the package has been investigated by Bloch (1995). 10). This can be achieved through the format of the package. These innovations have resulted in Linking packaging to marketing 1551 . In their research they found that consumer reactions to rectangular forms of the package may influence purchase intentions and preferences. Colours on packages attract attention. Packaging design is not just crucial for branding purposes but also for the function of the package. material. colour. Raghubir and Greenleaf (2006) examined the effect of the proportional ratios of packages. 1997). they have an aesthetic function and they communicate meaning. 2009. Innovation has played a role in the design of many new packages that are re-sealable. Wansink (1996) also argues that from a managerial point-of-view “it is important to realize that packaging influences consumer behaviour long after it influences purchase” (p. and in another study.function is for communication purposes such as facilitating brand and product recognition. tamperproof and more convenient to use. The use of colour to attract customers’ attention has been investigated by Kauppinen (2004). they investigated the communicative power of packaging for creating and communicating brand identity. text and graphics. 106). for take-away food. Customer information about price and ingredients. Kauppinen’s (2004) study implies that the role of colours is threefold. The communicative importance of packaging has been studied by Underwood and Klein (2002) and Underwood (2003). In these studies. New technological impression of the product in its prepared state” (U devices in relation to a packaging solution can also improve the possibilities for market communication within a store by digital signage or RFID technology. This research supports the importance of the packaging component and the proposition that for products that are not bought in their final form “consumers often rely more on the package than other forms of marketing communication to develop an ¨ lger. The results from their study support the importance of considering product form in marketing strategy. its colour. In these studies large package sizes consistently increased the usage volume of a product. New packaging design can be the marketing tool for achieving marketing objectives and satisfying consumer desires. 166). Previous research shows that a moderate alteration in the package design may be the best solution for drawing attention and generating a favourable judgement of a package (Schoormans and Robben. e. To be effective in advertising a package needs to attract and keep the customer’s attention. The findings also suggest that an “additive effect may be gained when the functions of colours on packages support each other” (p. together with information about how to handle and use the product are other necessary functions of a package (Schoormans and Robben. size and shape. The role of colours on packages for low-involvement purchasing was found to have an impact on consumers’ decision-making at the point of purchase. The results from five studies by Wansink (1996) show that large packages of familiar branded products also encourage more use of the product than small packages. 1997). but also that this is related to marketplace demand. An important reason why consumers may use more from larger packages is because they perceive such packages as less expensive per unit than smaller packages of the same products. This can be achieved by using the aesthetic and functional components of a package. Packaging in marketing strategy Intensive competition provides an opportunity to use packaging as an integrative tool in marketing strategy. Aesthetic considerations relate to a package’s shape and size.

. 2002.BFJ 115. 2002). The first is related to whether packaging contributes to the marketing strategy and the second to how packaging is linked to the outcome. . marketing managers devise strategies and tactics aimed at providing satisfaction by adding value for customers. Conveying descriptive and persuasive information (Selame and Koukos. packaging can be treated together with labelling as a function of the product strategy. customer value and benefits. However. Clever dispensing and recyclability (Incepen. Ease of opening and closure (BSI. Innovative design to create customer awareness (Vazquez et al. and communication including customer relationships. Supporting product consumption (Wansink. Packaging has become an important element for innovation and product differentiation at the retail outlet. 2003. The importance of safe and convenient packaging solutions can obviously be an important element in the marketing strategy for any producing company. . Aiding at-home storage (Bloch. 2011). 2009). or elements. Well-designed packages can build brand and drive sales. easy to open or more convenient for storage at home. advertising and other aspects of marketing strategy. . Packaging is also important for quality purposes in logistic functions such as distribution and export of food products to distant markets and innovations in packaging solutions can make the difference in the marketplace. 1996. 2002). 1995). This discussion leads to two research areas. 2002. In a traditional marketing program. One way to describe the necessary variables is by using Lauterborn’s (1990) four Cs – convenience for the customer. Facilitating product transportation and protection of the content (World Packaging Organisation. Identification of a brand (Selame and Koukos..11 1552 packages that are easy to hold. 2009) . . From a marketing perspective. Marketing tactics In the development of a marketing strategy. In some product areas it can also be the decisive factor in creating a competitive edge. . Ampuero and Vila. 2006). 2011). . This must be done in relation to the existing competitive situation and the various variables. and obviously become an important element for building customer value and competitive advantage. Increasing awareness of environmental issues (World Packaging Organisation. Propositions The framework presented in this study suggests that packaging can be of strategic value for a firm’s marketing strategy and tactics. Warranties and guaranties are other important elements of the product strategy which often appear on a package. are blended into a suitable marketing mix (controllable variables). Clement. Underwood and Klein. cost to the customer. . packaging must harmonize with other functions in the marketing mix such as pricing. Underwood and Klein. 2007). packaging needs to fulfil a number of objectives within a marketing strategy: .

business plans. the communications manager and sales people at exhibitions. The systematic incorporation of package issues into planning can be linked to positive performance outcomes. 442-3). A major contribution to the case stories has been “corporate stories” from three companies where two corporate stories relate to the same company. questionnaires and observations of managerial or employee actions and interactions. Multiple cases are used rather than a single case since. Linking packaging to marketing 1553 We address these issues by examining the role of packaging in different areas of packaging solutions within the food and beverage-packaging industry. The different packaging solutions concern both primary and tertiary packages. whereas with more than ten cases the volume of data can be difficult to handle. Even though there is no ideal number of cases in a multiple case study approach. theory might be difficult to generate. Interviews. . a multiple-case study was conducted in accordance with Yin (1994) and Eisenhardt (1989). Lyons (2005) has also discussed the value of case studies for the communication of applied research within the food industry. this has provided us with an extensive basis for developing the cases. This specific/unique capacity is appreciated by marketing practitioners. but without experimental controls or manipulations [.P1. Together with other documents. In this study. P4. Meredith (1998) gives example of suitable sources such as financial data. Research method To gain more detailed knowledge of packaging for marketing purposes. Web-pages.] The goal is to understand as fully as possible the phenomenon being studied through perceptual triangulation. P3. natural setting that considers temporal and contextual aspects of the contemporary phenomenon under study. . . the recommendation is to use between four to ten cases. interviews. multiple cases encourage the researcher to study patterns common to cases and theory and avoid chance associations. “The story typically consists of narrative that is interspersed with quotations from key informants and other important evidence” (Eisenhardt and Graebner. Our main concern is the contrast of products and customers using them. as Eisenhardt (1991) argues. memoranda. The use of “corporate stories” has been discussed by Benjamin (2006) and Denning (2006). . Written documents. 29). In this study we have used the following sources: . We have also interviewed the marketing director. P2. the accumulation of multiple entities as supporting sources of evidence to assure that the facts being collected are indeed correct” (pp. This appreciation is expressed through the systematic incorporation of packaging issues into product/brand planning at an early stage. . we use four cases on the basis of innovative packaging solutions. Meredith (1998) defines a case study as a method that “typically uses multiple methods and tools for data collection from a number of entities by a direct observer(s) in a single. When a study has less than four cases. Packaging can have a measureable impact on market performance (ceteris paribus). p. 2007.

“The main aim of the change of material was to eliminate the slight flavour. A growing awareness on the Norwegian market made it also necessary to search for solutions that reduced the level of carbon dioxide pollution. “When we introduced the new packaging solution we also printed information about it on the package” (ibid). 2008. but also to improve the environmental issues” (Market Unit Manager for Elopak Norway). Packaging exhibitions (Pack and Emballage. 1990). The four cases were selected through purposeful sampling in relation to packaging board products (Patton. The choice of material was made and two new types of packaging board (with two customized substances) were developed for the Norwegian customer by the Swedish material supplier.11 . The cases are presented in the following. these data have been categorised in a short description in the form of a case study and then interpreted and analysed in a matrix. 2010). the biggest supplier of dairy products in Norway have had some problems with the sustainability and taste of their milk products and asked their packaging supplier Elopak to develop a new packaging solution. a more efficient barrier for light. Findings in the case studies In order to conduct the research and answer the research question four “corporate stories” have been used. a whiter surface for printing due to the coating and a reduced effect on the environment. The requirements from the filler were that the new package should have a better barrier for light and be more environmentally friendly. Korsnas (2011) and Stora Enso (2010. In case C the supplier of the packaging material is introducing an innovative material with improved properties for new end-uses. the converter found a simple solution with several advantages. The unit of analysis has been the product package. Elopak is one of the leading converters in the field of liquid board packaging around the globe with 16 production units and with activities in more than 100 countries. 2011)). whereas case B is the development of the material for a premium brand. and the first case with a product based on a white packaging board for a liquid product. whereas in case D the secondary packaging has become an important factor in relation to the branding of the product. The empirical context in these narratives has been obtained from the communications manager in each company (Billerud (2011). 2011. The material supplier had also developed a coated surface that was suitable for printing. Scanpack. Case story A Packaging creates feelings among customers and is a crucial factor for the brand experience of the purchased product. The first case A is an improved packaging material to better fulfil customer requirements. Elopak re-considered the whole concept and evaluated different packaging materials for the new package with a screw cap at the top of the package. . Tine.BFJ 115. . 1554 Research into packaging is well suited for the use of a multiple-case study since it is a current phenomenon on which limited academic research has been conducted and published. Field visits. Interpretation: After a long period of testing different types of packaging boards. 2009. 2009. Together with other data about the products and interviews with sales people at exhibitions.

it is the modern design of the bottle and gift carton that has contributed to its success. A common trend in recent years has been to increase “premiumisation” and the overall strengthening of the gift carton played a key role in this company strategy. The whisky brand is sold worldwide and “enjoys a strong consumer and brand loyalty”. At the filler’s. already introduced in New York in 1909. A closer look at the conversion and packaging process made it clear that the filler needed a high-performance board material. As for the gift carton. The board is first foil-laminated in a reel-to-reel process and then run through a flexographic printing press. It is also possible to create deep embossing that can reinforce a product brand. varnished. The packaging design is revisited every few years to ensure that the consumers are engaged with the brand and that the packaging is appropriate. robust visual appearance” (Communication Manager). the converter played an important role in the development of the new package to meet the market requirements. the Chivas Brothers were searching for a further improvement to enhance their shelf presence and improve consumer “grip stiffness” since gift cartons are handled a great deal in the retail stores. The new packaging board material was introduced at the same time as the latest brand graphics during the summer of 2009. “The packaging design is both bold and distinctive. FiberForm is a new and innovative product concept with unique properties that makes it possible to design creative and personal packaging solutions in new and exciting shapes. the converter was running the first trials and found that the weight of the new board compared favourably with other higher gram mage board tested and available at the time. embossed and then glued at a high speed. the foil laminator and the producer of the packaging board developed a 480gsm board for the customer. In 2008. where it is printed on both sides. This requires a package that can protect a precious product and the brand image. A unique packaging solution can attract the consumer and increase sales since 80 per cent of purchasing decisions are made in the store. The strength of the carton board had to cope with the daily interest among the consumers for the brand and its design.Together with the material supplier. which required an even heavier material. Since the number of products is increasing. The distinctive shape of the bottle together with its label and the gift carton have always been important features in creating the brand portfolio for a premium brand of whisky. Case story B Chivas Regal. Interpretation: New customer habits and requirements in the store required the filler and brand owner to develop an improved package in co-operation with the converter and the board manufacturer. with an air of nobility and heritage. it then goes into a demanding bottle packaging process before its distribution to retailers. the powerful design with its metallic feel and proud heraldry requires a material that is consistent with that solid. In a joint process. the competition is fiercer and it is a question of getting customer’s attention in the store. Linking packaging to marketing 1555 Case story C It is the appearance of the packaging that determines how much attention a product will get and how well it attracts customers in a purchasing situation. the converter. Even though the whisky brand was introduced as early as 1801. This resulted in a material with higher performance and consistency. An anonymous product can . has become a “global icon” for many whisky connoisseurs and its premium brand Chivas Regal 12-year-old whisky sells more than 30 million bottles a year. By the end of 2008.

” says a representative. “But it’s never just a matter of printing. . an ergonomic tool. . Strength is an important factor in the choice of board material but also the capacity to run it smoothly in the converting machines “it is imperative that the liner’s gluing side has a surface with the right absorption properties to produce plain flat board” (ibid). “We are always looking at the packaging. “A package is not just a package. the response from the market has been very positive. the customer has chosen a packaging material that is tuned to the brand. You set out to be number one at all times. It also has sustainable credentials through FSC accreditation. suitable for food packaging. No single property is decisive – what matters is the sum total of all the characteristics. The board material has a top layer of white chemical pulp and a double coating that provide a fine print surface. We do not sell print. Both printing methods. you never want to be number two. Absolut Vodka is one of the most well-known vodkas in the world and requires real packaging during its transportation from its producer in Sweden to its 126 different markets in the world. responsible for Transport Packaging. a brand builder. . “FiberForm is a lightweight product. an environmentalist. Here. consumer products and pharmaceuticals. which is used in secondary packaging is boxes based on paperboard (Korsna the transport/display units for the overseas export of Absolut Vodka.] and the various packaging types must speak the same language. a packed unit. . as well as the strength and stiffness to protect the bottles products during distribution. storage and transportation in the supply chain.” says a representative. FiberForm is a paper that is expected to replace plastic in a variety of packaging solutions that require formability and purity. . e g for trays and blister packs for food. for instance. Another company that has tested and found the material interesting and suitable for their packaging is Sony Ericsson. “FiberForm enabled us to create a unique design that communicates environment” . responsible for all technical aspects of food packaging at Marks and Spencer. which is an integrated plant including flexo printing facilities. This places great demands on the supplier’s creativity and technical abilities. Interpretation: The new material with great capacity to form and stretch the package offers the possibility of developing new packaging solutions where traditional paper qualities previously had their limitations. A preferred product for the ¨ s Design).] for the campaign products we can be more adventurous [. The secondary packaging material is converted in Nybro. If you are Absolut Vodka. we sell function.” says Business Area Manager for Smurfit Kappa LithoPac. . “For our volume products the challenge is to find the right level in the relation between cost and quality [. Even though the packaging in the form of a leaf is not available on the market. it’s a communication channel. or in a display format. It includes all packaging for the containment and protection of goods during handling.11 1556 be given a fresh breath of life and thus stand out from other products on a shelf. colours and volume are reviewed and improved” says Senior Manager Creation Communication Design at Sony Ericsson. Case story D Transport packaging is an important function in the distribution of products before they reach the shelf in a store. a piece of . A packaging board based on recycled material has shorter fibres and the surface may break when it is being processed. So you choose a packaging material that’s in harmony with your number one position.BFJ 115.

Recent studies show that more than 70 per cent of customer decisions to purchase a product are made at the point of sale (POPAI. Pricing Innovative – gives opportunity to new market areas B Liquid C Consumer goods Packaging board with 20 per Innovation cent ability to stretch the material Packaging board for secondary packaging D Liquid Product Distribution/storage/ improvement displaying. The supplier’s service level and logistics also contribute to the choice of supplier. 2011. The possibility of designing innovative and consumer-friendly packaging is obviously only limited by the creativity and imagination of the design team. This includes branding aspects and the design of the package. Packaging and packaging design has therefore been recognised as an important ingredient for marketing purposes. Positioning and branding. apart from product specification. GfK. A basic pre-condition is that the exterior appearance maintains the level that is expected of a design-strong brand such as Absolut Vodka. All packaging elements such as selection of packaging material.craftsmanship and thus a fun challenge for co-operation” (ibid). text. One of the major contributions of a successful packaging concept lies in the role that packaging Type of product Case packaged A Liquid Packaging material Packaging board with plastic coating and plastic cup Packaging board with embossing and printing Stage Influence on marketing Product Distribution/logistics development New material Distribution and storage. This is in line with what Ampuero and Vila (2006) found in their research on consumer perceptions of product packaging. 2011). structures and image need to be combined to provide the consumer with visual sales arguments when buying and using the product. although material properties and costing can place limitations on the packaging solution. other factors such as relationships and human interaction form part of the process. Linking packaging to marketing 1557 Discussion Even though the primary function of packaging is protection from damage and contamination during distribution in the supply chain. This function has also increased with the increasing level of self-service systems in most retail branches. The 15 basic flavours are bottled in up to 12 different sizes that are packed in boxes and distributed to the 126 different markets (see Table I). Interpretation: Secondary packaging has also become an important ingredient in the packaging concept especially if it is used for display purposes in the retail outlet. other factors have become more vital. From a consumer perspective packaging plays a major role when products are purchased and packaging has become more crucial since this is the first thing a consumer sees before making the final decision to buy a product in a store. This means that. In this situation. Type of packaging in the case studies . Branding Table I. design in the form of shape and colours. packaging provides suppliers with the last opportunity to persuade presumptive buyers before product and brand selection.

fillers and converters also supports P4 in this study. in a supply chain for the distribution of food products.BFJ 115. Another important benefit of packaging is its function as a marketing tool. or limit. a packaging solution in relation to marketing strategy (see Figure 2).11 1558 plays. Another contribution has been the reduced risk of contamination and damage to the liquid product (compare Case A). size or shape. 1997). which also support P2 and P3. Further. This has been proven in cases B and C. Influencing factors on the packaging concept . a package can be effective in attracting and retaining the attention of the customer through its format in terms of colour. for instance. This supports P1 that packaging enhances market performance for actors in a supply chain. In the competition between similar products on a shelf. However. Previous research has shown that a moderate alteration in the package design may be the best solution for attracting attention and generating a favourable judgement of a package (Schoormans and Robben. A communicative capacity in the packaging concept is a necessity for marketing in a competitive environment. the study also reveals diverse factors that will contribute to. close co-operation between material suppliers (packaging board material). Product requirements Among the factors that are crucial to the packaging solution are the requirements that depend on the product characteristics as such (solid/liquid/gel/cream/tablet). The risk of a reaction in some packaging materials must also be tested. Another critical factor is Figure 2. The distribution of liquid products has been considerably improved by innovations in the product package and its role in increasing cost effectiveness.

Any new innovative pack needs to fit the existing production facilities without investing in new equipment. the packaging needs to withstand a sterilisation process. Customer requirements The many changes in society and the emergence of new technologies affect how products are sold. One important factor is product visibility prior to the purchase of a ready food product. Further. Such cost factors can be hidden in the complexity of producing. Storage capacity in the home as well as a suitable size for ease of carrying to the home are other significant factors. This is particularly important in relation to packaging since many consumer products are considered over-packed. where moisture. which have had an important influence on customer requirements and packaging design. Cost limitations The design of innovative packaging solutions requires more than creative ideas in order to meet production and cost fragile the product is and how this risk of physical damage will affect packaging requirements during distribution in the supply chain. The combination of materials can also make the packaging material too expensive in relation to the value of the product. For food products the requirements are even dependent on product degradation. the anticipated pack size (weight/volume) in relation to consumer preferences has to be taken into account. temperature and light are critical. needs to be considered in relation to the product concept. filling or sealing the package. from a marketing point-of-view. Safety aspects together with the disposal of the product can influence the choice of a particular brand. the risk of contamination. Environment and ethical requirements Environmental requirements from organisations and individual consumers have become crucial in marketing any product these days. Change in household size is another factor affecting the specific package size (weight/volume). affecting smell and taste among other things. Customer requirements can take many forms and it is essential for retailers and their suppliers to be aware of what is essential for the end consumer when selecting and buying a particular product at the retail outlet. Finally. In some areas. The projected product sales may either contribute to or limit such investments. One of the most important drivers is the development of self-service systems. Filling and weighing the product in a new innovative package together with closing and sealing are other vital production factors influencing the production process. The requirements that the necessary product shelf-life time entails must also be fulfilled. On-line printing and labelling and the number of primary packs in relation to secondary packs are further requirements on the packaging solution that could limit the possibility of producing the package in an efficient manner. There is a limited value in developing innovations that cannot be realized due to cost factors. Even though paper-based packaging materials have an advantage over many other materials since they are produced from sustainable and renewable resources suitable for re-cycling. Production limitations The choice of suitable packaging material and design depends on the ability to actually produce it in a cost-efficient manner. Linking packaging to marketing 1559 . furthermore. which Findus (2011) have found in their market research among their customers.

which requires consumers to select a certain item among other products in the store. It also requires that a customer can identify a certain brand. The findings in the case studies emphasise the importance of market research in relation to developing new packaging solutions. maintaining the quality of the product without any spillage.11 Product dispensing and consumer disposal (reusable/recyclable/compostable) of the product are important issues in the debate. The intensive competition on the retail side requires innovative design to create customer awareness. A supermarket may store more than 40.BFJ 115. The significance of packaging in relation to branding and other marketing variables has become increasingly recognised among managers. Competitive packaging solutions can have different forms which enable the consumer to either see or estimate the value of what they can get for their money. 2002. In international trade the use of unambiguous text and symbols is essential. together with other necessary information. Criticism from environmental organisations and governments about over packaging products has also focused interest on environmental and ethical issues. The packaging should convey descriptive information. especially within the wide range of consumer products. an innovative packaging can change the rules. Almost every product on the market requires some sort of packaging and it is often the first thing a customer will see when 1560 . 2002. Packaging has become more than a logistic function to protect and preserve the product during its distribution in the supply chain and. 2003. as Ampuero and Vila (2006) point out. Another major function is communication in relation to the customer. Many packaging design projects have a short lead time. This identification should be possible in a situation where the product is competing with several other brands. The case studies show the importance of innovative packaging solutions in order to stay competitive. This has become an important factor in the marketing of many products. 2007) have argued. Proper labelling includes information about the content and other premium data. it must fulfil several marketing functions before reaching its ultimate customer. A functional packaging must also contain the product. Conclusions and managerial implications This study has highlighted some factors that managers need to consider when developing new packaging solutions. Competitive factors Most products face aggressive competition. as other researchers (Selame and Koukos. 2009). Clement. Another requirement from customers and authorities is that the information is clear and readable. An established practise in a market segment can reveal the specific configurations (pack size/weight/volume) that need to be followed. However. to be successful.000 items. This is underscored by changing consumer behaviour and a number of other factors which have a direct or indirect effect on packaging demand irrespective of the size and growth of the market (World Packaging Organisation. but new requirements compel management to ensure they are well-informed about the market segment by listening to consumers and analysing the results from other actors in the supply chain. There is also the requirement that food products be produced locally in order to reduce the effects of distribution and storage. A package must communicate the content of the product and how it can be used. as Selame and Koukos (2002) have shown. Underwood and Klein. but also for industrial products. Underwood.

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4 No. D. D. R. Linking packaging to marketing 1563 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. J.emeraldinsight. R.R. Vol. Storaenso. S. Dr Rundh has previously held different positions in the exporting industry.L. J. (2002).com/media-centre/Pages/media-centre. 1. Journal of Product & Brand Management.asp (accessed 13 May 2009). “Packaging as brand communication: effects of product pictures on consumer responses to the package and brand”. 62-76.Underwood. and Ozanne. “Is your package an effective communicator? A normative framework for increasing the communicative competence of packaging”. and Studd. smurfitkappa.asp (accessed 13 May 2009). Oxford. World Packaging Organisation (2008). and Klein. (2001). Naperville. Fall. available at: www. (1994).L. “The communicative power of product packaging: creating brand identity via lived and mediated experience”. Underwood. Vol. N. available at: www. 68-73. N. Further reading Produkter (2011). pp.rundh@kau. publications/default. 105 No. and Ibrahim. Vol. “Packaging is the answer to world hunger”. Vol.worldpackaging. IL.M. 1. Underwood.L.. 2nd ed. “Packaging communication: attentional effects of product imagery”. 4. He has also published in diverse international journals and at marketing conferences. Journal of Marketing. pp. 602-617. 9. London. available at: www. Vol. (2003).com/reprints . publications/default. IL. available at: www. (2003). Yin. World Packaging Organisation (2009). Design Management Review. and Burke. Produkter. His current research areas of interest are international marketing and marketing strategy. 10 No.M. R. Klein. World Packaging Organisation. Case Study Research. 1-14. West. Underwood. pp. E. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. B. (2004). Naperville. Storaenso (2011). 10 No. 3. (1998).. Sage Publications. Or visit our web site for further details: www. R. 7. 4. 60 No. 403-422. Dr Bo Rundh can be contacted at: bo.findus. (accessed 10 October 2011). Wansink. “Breaking down the barriers to packaging innovation”. available at: www. 15 No. Vol. (2010). 11 No. Creating Competitive Advantage. pp. 207-220. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. Bruce.worldpackaging. Oxford University Press. “Market statistics and future trends in global packaging”. “The art of defending Absolut’s top position”. Journal of Marketing Communication. (1996). British Food Journal. “A case study exploring the packaging design management process within a UK food retailer”.storaenso.. aspx (accessed 26 May 2011). (accessed 18 October 2011). “Can package size accelerate usage volume?”. 58-68. Smurfit Kappa (2011). Young.. R. About the author Bo Rundh PhD is a Professor at the Department of Business Administration at Karlstad University. 2nd ed. Strategic Marketing. pp. World Packaging Organisation. Vazquez. R.